Acne is an extremely common (and extremely discomforting!) skin problem that occurs when the pores are clogged by dead skin cells, impurities, oil, etc. Bacteria may also enter these pores, leading to breakouts. Some of the main causes of acne are stress, medications, lack of sleep, pollutants, unhealthy lifestyle, and hormonal factors.

There are multiple over-the-counter lotions available for the treatment of acne, but why spend money on expensive chemical-laden products when there are safer and more natural ways to deal with this skin condition.

Essential oils for acne
Treat acne with essential oils

Recently, there is increasing interest in natural plant-based remedies by people that want safer alternatives to the synthetic chemical compounds used in cosmetics for treating skin problems such as acne.

This new drive towards naturalistic healing has catapulted essential oils to fame. These wonder potions have all the makings of a quintessential skin salve and have proven quite effective against a range of common dermatological problems. (1)

How to Use Essential Oils for Acne

Essential oils are derived from plants and are used extensively in cosmetic skin care and beauty products and home remedies. These natural potions are often too potent to be used by themselves.

In order to bring down their intensity a notch, essential oils are generally diluted with “carrier oils,” such as olive, almond, and coconut oils, which come with their own skin-enhancing benefits.


For instance, both coconut oil and olive oil possess strong moisturizing properties and are great for nourishing the skin. You may use any essential oil that suits your skin along with the carrier oil of your choice.

Note: As essential oils are highly potent, perform a patch test before using them on your skin.

Anti-Acne Recipe with Essential Oil

Things you’ll need:

things need
Items you will need
  • Essential oil (mentioned below) - 5 to 6 drops
  • Carrier oil (coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil) - 1 tablespoon

Single-Step Method: Add a few drops of essential oil to the carrier oil and apply

combine essential oil and carrier oil
Add a few drops of the essential oil you prefer to the carrier oil and gently apply
  • Add 5-6 drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil and mix well.
  • Using a cotton ball or q-tip, dab the solution on the acne.

Use this remedy daily before going to bed for best results.

Some Essential Oils for Acne

Here are ten essential oils you can use for preventing and treating acne.

1. Tea Tree Oil

tea tree essential oil

Tea tree essential oil, which goes by the botanical name of melaleuca oil, offers multiple antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic, and antiviral benefits as well as anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.


Benefits: Clinical evidence supports the therapeutic efficacy of using tea tree oil as a natural cosmetic and self-treatment substance for a wide array of inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne, skin lesions, abscesses, warts, and boils, among others. (2) (3)

It is also touted as the go-to essential oil for reducing acne-related inflammation and redness. Moreover, it helps nip the problem in the bud by combating and restricting the buildup of bacteria that leads to such breakouts in the first place.

How it works: Tea tree oil activates the healing process by penetrating the outer layers of the skin and quickly mixing with sebaceous secretions to eliminate pimples by producing antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects in the pores.

Note: Tea tree essential oil is unlikely to cause any adverse skin reactions if used in limited quantities, but it is recommended that you carry out a patch test nevertheless. Dab a bit of the oil on the underside of your forearm before using it to ensure its suitability for your skin.

2. Lavender Essential Oil

lavender essential oil


There are several botanical names attributed to lavender, which include Lavandula angustifolia ‘Vera,’ Lavandula officinalis, and the most commonly available species Lavandula angustifolia, which has a fragrance that is light, fresh, floral, and herbaceous.

The essential oil extracted from this perennial flowering plant has been much celebrated for its medicinal value, owing to its rich antioxidant, antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant potentials.

Benefits: Lavender essential oil offers both physiological and psychological benefits and has been traditionally used for treating minor wounds, burns, stings, bites, and acne. (4)

How it works: Additionally, its astringent properties make it especially effective for acne treatment in particular. It helps unclog pores by removing the impurities settled within and thereby prevents acne breakouts.

However, unlike commercial astringents that are often too harsh on the skin, lavender essential oil does not cause itching, dryness, or irritation.

Thus, the lavender essential oil is characteristically gentle and soothing, which makes it an effective healing agent against acne breakouts and skin inflammation, particularly for sensitive skin types.


3. Lemon Essential Oil

Another essential oil that ranks highly for its skin-healing benefits is derived from lemon, also known as Citrus limon in scientific circles. Lemon essential oil gives off a wonderful citrus smell, making it a regularly featured ingredient in a range of cosmetics, perfumes, scented candles, and soaps.

Benefits: The popularity of lemon essential oil as a natural therapeutic aid for many skin conditions has much to do with its potent antibacterial, antiseptic, astringent, antiviral, and detoxifying properties, all of which help maintain the integrity of the skin.

The lemon essential oil is credited with several skin-promoting effects that include balancing out oily skin, fighting acne by controlling breakout episodes, and rejuvenating dull skin. (5)

Lemon essential oil also promotes natural exfoliation of dead skin cells due to the presence of alpha hydroxy acids, the active ingredients in chemical peels. Add to that its vitamin C content, which stimulates collagen synthesis, further speeding up the skin regeneration process.

All in all, lemon essential oil promotes skin cell turnover, which helps lighten scars, improve the skin tone, and restore the natural balance of the skin, giving you glowing acne-free skin.

How it works: Citric acid is a major constituent of lemon essential oil that accounts for its cosmetic biocide property, which allows it to cleanse the skin, destroy bacteria to prevent acne breakouts, and function as a conditioning agent to nourish the skin. (6)

Citrus oils are photoreactive, so they produce acute light-induced responses such as skin irritation, redness, inflammation, and swelling, or an exaggerated sunburn that accelerates into phototoxicity. (7)

A precaution of avoiding sun exposure after applying lemon essential oil to the skin is, therefore, recommended.

4. Orange Essential Oil

orange essential oil

The essential oil from orange, Citrus sinensis, has all the properties you need for effective acne treatment.

Elevated stress levels have a direct bearing on hormone production. It triggers the release of corticotropin in the body that can lead to inflammation of the skin and make any preexisting inflammatory conditions even worse. (9)

Benefits: This essential oil also has antidepressant properties that alleviate anxiety, anger, depression, and stress, which help in reducing the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in the sebaceous gland.

Thus, the orange essential oil is a safe and effective bet for lowering stress levels, curbing inflammatory processes, and preventing stress-induced acne. (10)


How it works: This oil has the ability to unclog blocked pores, relieve congested and oily conditions, and eliminate problematic breakouts. (8) The cleansing, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties of orange essential oil tackles acne-causing bacteria.

Orange essential oil works as an anti-inflammatory agent that counters such inflammatory responses, including the redness and swelling associated with acne. Orange essential oil is known to balance oil production in the sebaceous glands and is especially suitable for acne-prone oily skin.

5. Grapefruit Essential Oil

grapefruit essential oil

The essential oil from grapefruit, Citrus paradisi, has a revitalizing effect on your skin. This plant-based liquid is a safe and natural alternative to other chemical-laden skin products; it helps you maintain a glowing and even complexion devoid of acne breakouts and scars. (11)

Benefits: This antibacterial, antiseptic, disinfecting, toning, and degreasing agent, widely used in cosmetics, is the perfect natural choice for combination, problematic, congested, and oily skin conditions.

The inherited properties of grapefruit oil cleanse the skin without the unwanted harshness, deters bacteria, and prevents acne by reducing sebum congestion in the pores.

Grapefruit essential oil is a storehouse of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, which provides anti-inflammatory activity against acne and other inflammatory skin conditions, helps redress post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and promotes wound healing. (12)

The vitamin C  in grapefruit essential oil also prevents trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) in the skin. This vital nutrient helps your skin heal better by promoting the synthesis of essential barrier lipids that are critical to protecting the outer epidermal layers.

How it works: Thus, a steady supply of skin-friendly vitamin C can keep your skin healthy, hydrated, and moisturized by restoring its natural lipid content. (13)

As with other citrus ingredients, grapefruit essential oil is phototoxic, which renders your skin ultra-sensitive to sunlight. Thus, you are strongly advised against going out in the sun after applying grapefruit essential oil to avoid any undue skin damage.

6. Oil of Oregano

oil of oregano

Oregano oil is derived from a widely popular and available herb that is scientifically known as Origanum vulgare. This essential oil also ranks highly as a pharmacological aid due to its antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, which account for its multiple health-promoting benefits.

Benefits: Carvacrol, one of the chief components in oregano oil, strengthens the immune system and has antimicrobial properties that help eliminate acne-causing bacteria.

The impressive range of skin-friendly properties linked to oregano oil makes it a sought-after natural remedy for addressing acne breakouts and the discomforting symptoms associated with it.

Not only does it provide symptomatic relief from the redness, swelling, and inflammation present, but it also rewards you with sustainable beauty by keeping your skin in the best of health.

How it works: The efficacy of this vital potion in arresting the spread of acne infections is said to be on par with traditional antibiotics. (14)

The superb germicidal ability of oregano oil for supporting clean, antiseptic skin pores and surfaces helps stave off future breakouts by averting and eliminating bacterial buildup.

7. Turmeric Essential Oil

turmeric oil

Derived from the roots of the turmeric plant, this essential oil has antibacterial, antifungal, antiallergic, antiviral, antiseptic, and analgesic properties.

Benefits: Turmeric essential oil is cherished for its healing and cosmetic benefits across beauty circles, so much so that it is often proposed as a natural foundation for you to build a healthy skin care routine on.

How it works: Curcumin, a major active compound in turmeric, is an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that protects skin cell health.

It suppresses the release of stress hormones and the inflammatory response that follows, which often lies at the base of acne breakouts and the associated pain, blemishes, redness, and swelling. (15)

Besides keeping acne in check, turmeric essential oil is attributed with other overarching skin benefits, which include diminishing the appearance of any hyperpigmented dark spots to give you a more uniform skin tone. (16)

A skin care regimen that includes turmeric essential oil will leave your skin bright and luminous.

8. Neem Essential Oil

neem oil

Neem oil, from Azadirachta indica, is an ancient natural remedy with several health-promoting effects that are attributed to its rich antioxidant properties. (17)

Benefits: Neem oil is considered to be a natural remedy for treating inflammatory responses – redness, pain, itching, and swelling - which explains its effectiveness in relieving the discomforts associated with acne.

Neem essential oil is used in alternative medicine and cosmetic to treat chronic skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

How it works: Its antiseptic property cleanses and purifies the skin, reducing the occurrence of breakouts, and its wound-healing effect works to lighten the post-inflammatory pigmentation and scars and reveal a clearer complexion.

Neem oil is also characterized by a combination of healing properties, which include antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory effects that qualify it as a therapeutic aid for chronic acne treatment. (18)

9. Frankincense Essential Oil

frankincense essential oil

Frankincense oil, from Boswellia serrata, is an extract from gum resin that has been used in traditional herbal, complementary, and alternative medicine since ancient times.

Benefits: The oil is an effective antiseptic, antibacterial, and disinfectant that eliminates germs to treat acne and reduce breakouts. These properties work together to cleanse your skin, control oil production, and prevent conditions that are conducive to acne breakouts.

How it works: Frankincense oil is also an inflammatory deterrent combined with an analgesic that inhibits redness, pain, irritation, post-inflammatory scarring, and inflammatory skin conditions. (19)

Another reason for using frankincense essential oil is to promote faster and better healing of wounds. It keeps the wound from becoming septic and protects against possible skin infections, besides fading scars and marks from boils, acne, and pox at a much faster rate. (20)

Thus, using frankincense essential oil in your skin care maintenance and prevention routines can ensure a successful outcome.

10. Geranium Essential Oil

geranium essential oil

Geranium essential oil, from Pelargonium odoratissimum, is a healing agent that is compatible with the relatively problematic skin types, such as dry, oily, and acne-prone skin.

Benefits: This essential oil is widely used as an ingredient in cosmetic and skin care products. Geranium oil is credited with potent astringent, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and lipid-balancing properties and has all the makings of an effective skin aid.

How it works: Its astringent properties help resolve acne by balancing the skin’s natural pH and controlling sebum production that leads to congested and oily skin, and its antibacterial properties combat the underlying infection.

Moreover, its anti-inflammatory properties can help tackle dermatitis, psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin conditions, as well as promote recovery from sores and wounds. (21)

Thus, include geranium oil as a beautifying and healing agent in your skin health treatment to attain a clear, glowing complexion that is free of acne imperfections.


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